Isabel dos Santos is living the life of luxury on the run from corruption investigators in Angola. Will she emerge victorious?
Welcome to Whale Hunting, a weekly newsletter delving into the hidden worlds of wealth and power. Catch up on all Project Brazen's work here, including Spy Valley (Tribeca Film Festival "Official Selection 2023"), the phenomenal Gateway podcast about Europe's drug wars and The Closer, all about the story behind deals that changed how we live and work. Now, back to one of our favorite topics – Isabel dos Santos. – Bradley
By Georgia Gee
We have previously reported on Isabel Dos Santos’s Diamond Deal.
To recap: Isabel dos Santos and her late husband Sindika Dokolo loaned out $147 million of Angola's money from Sodiam, its state-owned oil company, to the Swiss luxury jeweler De Grisogono. But now, Whale Hunting has found out more detail about how this deal allegedly went down.
Back in 2012, the famous diamond company, beloved by celebrities, was in debt. Dos Santos and Dokolo acquired a majority stake and incorporated the company as a joint venture with Sodiam. By 2017, they had invested $147 million from the state.
De Grisogono’s founder Fawaz Gruosi, nicknamed “The King of Diamonds,” was elated by the access to Angola’s rich resources.“It gives us privileged access to the highest quality gems that allow us to form of integration that few brands can achieve,” he said at the time.
But with the end of the Dos Santos government in 2017, and the new administration's pledge to fight corruption, the tides began to turn. Angola made clear it wanted the money back and began a criminal investigation into Gruosi, demanding he repay the debt. But De Grisgono had just gone bankrupt.